By Patrick Cronin
The Herald Sunday, Sunday, October 16, 2005
[The following article is courtesy of The Herald Sunday and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- The town will honor seven members of the Fire Department who decided to hang up their hats this year.
"This is going to be a celebration of their commitment and dedication to the town of Hampton and the Hampton Fire Department," said Dave Lang, spokesman for both fire unions.
Lang said the party, which will be held at Faro Gardens in Hampton Falls on Oct 28, will honor Capt. Russell D. Bridle, firefighters Robert Thompson Jr., David Weber, John Karmen III, Kevin Lemoine and fire-alarm operators William C. Murray and Thomas Andrews.
Collectively, all seven have spent more than 160 years serving the citizens and visitors of Hampton.
"This is an opportunity for the local unions and the Fire Department to reflect upon the outstanding performance of these individuals," Lang said. "The challenge is going to be able to talk about seven high-quality firefighters in a limited amount of time. Our job will be to show them a good time and recognize their efforts."
Weber, Bridle and Thompson all retired in April shortly after cuts were made to the Fire Department budget.
Bridle said he decided to retire because it was time. Thompson and Weber, on the other hand, said they retired because they didn't want to see the "younger guys" without a job.
Bridle joined the ranks of the department as a call firefighter in 1975. He was hired as a full-time firefighter in 1977. In 1999, he was promoted to lieutenant and in 2001 as captain.
"I worked for the Fire Department for almost 30 years," Bridle said. "And I enjoyed going to work every single day."
For the last 15 years, Bridle has been responsible for fire-alarm maintenance. He also was one of the ones who started the firefighter Toy Bank in Hampton.
Thompson joined the force as an appointed call firefighter in 1975. That same year, he joined the ranks as a full-time firefighter. While he wasn't planning on retiring this year, he felt he had no choice.
"Obviously, with guys getting laid off, I wanted to put them back to work," Thompson said. "I had planned to retire next year, but when they started letting guys go, it was the right thing to do to retire."
As a Hampton firefighter, Thompson was honored with two medals of valor, one for a windsurfer rescue in 1997 and another one for pulling an unconscious girl from the water in 1999.
He also has received two unit citations for battling two fires. He also received a citation from the Police Department.
Weber joined the force in 1978 as a call firefighter. He joined the ranks as a full-time firefighter a year later.
He said he is proud to have served the town.
"I enjoyed doing a good job and saving a few lives in the process."
Along with being a firefighter, Weber served five years as a member of the Conservation Commission. He also built and installed more than 100 bird boxes for natural control of green heads and mosquitoes, along with building three osprey nests.